The plan, she told reporters, is aimed at “confirming vaccination status or abiding by stringent Covid-19 protocols, like mandatory mask wearing, even in communities not with high or subsequent substantial spread, and regular testing.”
White House officials left open the possibility that some parts of the federal government might follow the lead of the Veterans Affairs Department and go further. That could include requiring employees who are in critical positions or deal directly with vulnerable populations to be vaccinated if they want to keep their job.
“We’ve also said requirements for vaccination may be under consideration for certain entities within the government,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said.
Mr. Biden’s decision to embrace stricter vaccine rules for federal workers follows days of deliberations and reflects the growing concern among top federal health officials about the Delta variant.
Those concerns prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to revise its recommendations for mask wearing this week, telling Americans that they should wear face coverings indoors in areas of the country where the spread of the virus is significant.
On Wednesday, officials at the Defense Department issued a statement saying that all military employees in those parts of the country should wear masks in all department facilities. That included the Pentagon just outside Washington, which is set to begin requiring people inside the building to wear a mask.
“Today’s announcement applies to all service members, federal personnel, contractors and visitors when indoors at all properties owned by the department in those areas, in accordance with updated C.D.C. guidelines,” said Jamal Brown, a deputy Pentagon press secretary.